Capital takes the high road

The capital of the United States now sanctions the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C. joined Washington State and Colorado as Marijuana-friendly zones this past month. Residents of these states 21-years-old and over may now freely consume the weed at their leisure.

Spokesman of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project Mason Tvert believes more and more states will follow suit in legalizing the weed for personal use.

“Some states will end marijuana prohibition more quickly than others, just as some states ended alcohol prohibition more quickly than others,” Tvert said in a USA Today article. “But they all did in the end, and now just about everybody recognizes that it was a good idea,” he said.”

Other states, while not going so far as to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes, made strides in that direction — California approving the decision to lower penalties for drug possession. Several other states now allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The nation has come a long ways since 1970, when marijuana was first added to the Controlled Substance Act as an illegal drug.

Lenore Anderson, the executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, said the nation is changing its views on how to handle drug abuse.

“When it comes to criminal justice and drug policy, Americans are thinking differently about these issues,” Anderson told U.S. News.

“The main message for policymakers is some of the old ways of thinking around prison-first policies and using the criminal justice system to deal with something like drug addiction is something the public doesn’t think is wise anymore.”

Executive director of Drug Policy Alliance Ethan Nadelmann agreed with Anderson.

“Drug policy reform has evolved from being the black sheep of criminal justice reform to being the cutting edge of criminal justice reform,” he told U.S. News. “Basically, a majority of Americans clearly believe there are too many people behind bars for nonviolent, low-level drug offenses.”

Many Americans do not agree with comparing drug prohibition to alcohol prohibition.

“Alcohol has more of a purpose since it’s a casual thing you can do without being far gone,” John Brown University sophomore Sydney Weaver said. “It’s hard to get high without being completely gone.”

With no clear benefits for the American public as a whole, marijuana use is focused on individual pleasure, Weaver said. “I don’t see as a society whole how that’s in any way helpful.”